Did He mean it, or was it just another cliché religious people spew out? He also said why do you call me lord, but do not the things I have commanded you? (Luke 6:46) I believe it’s indicative of His intent for us to practice what He preached.
If Jesus really said, “Love your enemies,” why do I find posts by people who call him Lord, Lord to the effect of “All Muslims must die!”? Or the loving signs the Westboro Baptists hold up in their pickets, depicting God as a hater of His creation.
Aside from the fact that we are offering ‘evil for evil’ and disobeying Jesus’ direct orders, we are also incorporating several innocent people into our hate, people whose only crime was being born into a particular belief structure which differs from our own. They know nothing beyond the narrow, bigoted beliefs programmed into their brains by parents, priests, and politicians.
I’d like to ask that you consider: What was Jesus referring to when he said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” It’s pretty simple; it’s the finale to ‘The Beatitudes’ – arguably one of the greatest discourses ever delivered. Although I quoted it from Luke, for our exploration of ‘The Beatitudes,’ I’d like to direct your attention to the more comprehensive version found in the gospel of Mathew.
So what did Jesus say before capping it off with, ‘Don’t bother calling me Lord unless you’re willing to do as I say’? Did He say, “You must believe I am the son of God?” Did He say, “You must be washed in my blood?” What He said, prior to this proclamation, can be studied in Matthew’s chapters 5-7; and I implore you to do so. I’m only going to hit a few important topics, which need careful consideration:
5:3) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (The absence of ego, pride, and arrogance – attitudes not found in heaven)
5:5) Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (I know as Christians, we’re not interested in inheriting the earth, but it is our inheritance if we are meek. Do you suppose being meek means hating and killing people who are different from us?)
5:7) Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Would you like to obtain mercy for your mistakes? It’s simple: Be merciful to others. Many times you see Jesus using this ‘give and it shall be given to you’ concept.)
5:8) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (How shall we be entitled to see God – by the work of Calvary’s cross? Jesus says if your heart is pure, you will see God.)
5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. (Several people asked Jesus ‘what must I do to be saved?’ and His response was never ‘simple faith’ but to do something. What must we do to be called the children of God? Be a peacemaker. Are we promoting peace and acting like children of God, or are we perpetuating hate and violence?)
5:38-42) You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. (There is no provision made for killing our enemies.) Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (‘Give to the one who asks’ makes no provision for “well, I know he’s only going to blow it on booze!”)
5:43-48) You have heard that it was said, (I love when Jesus says this. He may not have come to abolish the law, but He sure did a lot of upgrading.) ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (How can you become a Son of the Heavenly Father? By loving your enemies and praying for those who abuse you, that’s how. Again, neither a word about faith nor the blood atoning sacrifice.) If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Our righteousness must exceed the pagans as well as the Pharisees.)
In 7:9-14 Jesus teaches us how to pray, and I would like to focus on the last part of this prayer:
Forgive our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us… For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (So, how do we obtain God’s forgiveness, by being washed in the blood? By forgiving others! And why will God withhold His forgiveness, because we have rejected His Son? Because we have not forgiven others! Jesus goes into great detail regarding this concept in Matt 18:21-35; ending it with, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”)
7:1) Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Again this concept of what goes around comes around, or better yet; what you put out there you will receive back – ‘Give, and it shall be given to you’ works for the negative as well as the positive.)
5:21-23) Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (And He just spelled out the ‘will of God’ for us in ‘The Beatitudes.’)
Paul said, “We are saved by grace, and not by works,” yet it appears as though Jesus may be contradicting Paul. Everything in ‘The Beatitudes’ seems to indicate a need for our participation.
Yes, I know how difficult it is to love someone who hates you; however, it is commanded of us; and you cannot circumvent a flood by pouring more water on it. We cannot overcome the hate in this world by offering it more hate. We must strive to find ways of acting like the peacemakers Jesus expected the children of God to be.
So we can offer all the opposing views we like, but the bottom line is this: We must ask ourselves two fundamental questions. Do we, or do we not, believe Jesus said these things, and if we do, then how can we work these virtues into our lives? I recommend we pray God give us the strength to be truly Christ like.
If we are supposed to love our enemies, why have we killed so many Muslims, ‘heretics,’ atheists, various ‘dissenting believers,’ scientists, and ‘witches’?
I feel I must end with an attempt to describe the beauty and joy that come from forgiveness. As Jesus said, “As you give you will receive. Forgive and be forgiven.” Isn’t that all we really want? You may say all we want is love; however, without forgiveness, we are incapable of experiencing love. First, we must experience the forgiveness for the things which hold our mind in bondage to guilt. It is this guilt, which repels love as we cry out, “I’m not worthy!”
And all that is required to experience this forgiveness is to offer it. It’s as simple as that. As you learn to hold yourself in a state of constant forgiveness, you’ll discover a new world awaits you. One of the first things you’ll find is an easiness of mind; a lessening of the burden of anger, hate, and stress, which our souls pay a heavy tax to shoulder. You’ll also discover people respond in like manner. No, not always, but you’ll find more people willing to hold the door for you – agreeable people yielding out of politeness to you – and most importantly, a general willingness to forgive you.
As a professional driver, I can attest that as I forgive motorist for cutting me off and whatnot, I find when I make a mistake and cut someone else off, by misjudging their distance or speed, they simply go around me; I hear no honking of horns, nor do I see any fingers out the window. The world truly is as we create it.
It is not my intention to neither trample the Cross nor profane the blood of Jesus. By all means continue in your belief and worship of these things. However, I do intend to stress my conviction that we may engulf ourselves in as much of His blood as we desire, but we may find it to no avail, if we do not practice the art of forgiveness as Jesus taught in the first three Gospels. And we stand the chance of hearing “Depart from Me; I never knew you” if we stubbornly refuse.
I will end with a quote from ‘A Course in Miracles,’ lesson 122 Forgiveness offers everything I want:
“What could you want forgiveness cannot give? Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do you want care and safety, and the warmth of sure protection always? Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep, abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset? All this forgiveness offers you, and more.”